Kenya has no plans to ban Mitumba - CS Adan Mohamed

Kenya last year agreed to phase out importation of second hand clothes by 2019.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China, Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Adan Mohamed said the government was simply working to revive and make competitive, Kenya’s textile industry.

“Our desire is to develop and promote our textile industry to create more jobs for people in the country and through the transition of market forces, we would like mitumbas to compete with new clothes produced within East Africa, within Kenya and if those products are much more competitive and much more consumer friendly, of course you will see a reduction in the mitumba business in the country.” He said.

Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda last year agreed to buy their textiles and shoes from within the region with a view to phasing out imports by 2019.

Early this year president Uhuru Kenyatta launched the ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ initiative which accorded Kenyans an opportunity to access quality, locally made affordable clothes with prices range from Kshs 100 to Kshs 600 for the same clothes that are sold at Kshs 6,000 in the US and UK Markets.

The plan was to reduce the amount of second-hand clothes in the local market.

“We want to focus on ways of building this sector and to create the domestic market,” Mohammed said during a tour of the Athi River-based Hela Clothing Limited.

Among other incentives the government offered the Export Processing Zones firms was exemption from Value Added Tax (VAT) if they sold locally.

Despite the second-hand clothes blamed for the collapse of Kenya’s textile industry, it is very popular among Kenyans who consider them superior, fashionable and trendy compared to garments made in Kenya.

According to a 2013 Ipsos survey, 62 per cent of middle and lower income urban Kenyans buy mitumba.

Second hand clothes are sourced from western countries such as US, UK, Australia and Canada where people donate their clothes to charities organization.

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